Tunnel City

Yesterday I cleaned the multis out, and gave them a whole new tunnel city to destroy. As far as rodents go they don’t produce a great deal of waste, and since I give them a pretty deep layer of substrate, from a cleanliness point of view they don’t need a substrate change all that often. However they’re vicarious chewers and really enjoy underground explorations; thus I compromise and change things around about once a month.

For security they live in a Ferplast Brio Mini, which is completely metal, including the tray. As it comes, the base of the cage is relatively shallow, however I’ve added corrugated plastic panels around the outside, which enables me to give deeper substrate. Because of the metal, and them being a Sub-Saharan species, I initially gave* them a fairly deep layer of chopped cardboard (Walmsley Premierbed Card) as insulation.

Layer 1: Chopped card

The second layer is soft teabag bedding (Walmsley Premierbed Paper) which is nice for lining nests with. While less absorbent than the card, this is really soft and light, which results in a lot of extra volume from relatively little material.

Layer 2: Teabag bedding

The third layer is the most fun! It’s at this point that I put in all the cardboard boxes and any other base-level homes and accessories. Some of the items are new, some are slightly chewed versions from before which are good to go again. Nests are filled with good quality green hay, while tubes are left hollow.

Layer 3: Cardboard (and natural material) city

Over the top of this I put in a couple of massive handfuls of straw/ less good quality hay.  These long fibrous stalks add some stability to their tunnels while also levelling the topography.

Layer 4: Straw and hay

While the boxes underneath would probably mean that the multis could walk over some of the hay/ straw layer okay, their relatively compact bodies and predisposition for pinging everywhere would probably make it really quite challenging. So rather than leaving this as the top layer, I sprinkle a relatively thin layer of more cardboard on top. Well actually, it’s usually a mixture of new cardboard and also the mixed up stuff that I took for the bin – this keeps the group’s smell in the environment thus keeping the homely feel. In any case, the springiness of the long stalks underneath and the top layer of substrate results in a firm but forgiving top surface to walk on.

Layer 5: Top surface

At the very top I add a few more boxes, tubes and other cardboard and twiggy-type things for them to chew up and bury as they so wish. Throughout the month I’ll add more items like this as they gradually disappear, one way or another.

Layer 6: Extra enrichment

Over time the substrate level does rise quite considerably and the layers mix up, but it’s all good fun.

Substrate slowly enveloping an ‘above ground’ perch

*These photos are actually from last month’s substrate change, but the only difference this month was in the details and arrangement of the boxes and tubes.

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